Fareham leader pledges to lobby government for ‘Hampshire green belt’

The countryside surrounding Harting Down in the South Downs National Park, in West Sussex.

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COUNCIL leaders have pledged to try to secure a green belt for Hampshire to stop the county being crammed with development.

Fareham Borough Council leader Sean Woodward says he has included a proposal in the county’s bid for a combined authority for pockets of green land to be given special status protecting them from major construction.

If we are expected to take development and growth, we owe it to our residents to say these sites are absolutely protected. The only green belt in the whole of Hampshire is near New Milton.

Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council

It comes a day before Hampshire’s council leaders meet local government secretary Greg Clark in London to talk about their request to combine as part of a super authority and secure greater powers from the government.

Councils want the ability to make decisions on issues such as health, infrastructure, skills, jobs, the environment, tourism and housing numbers without government interference.

Plans for a major green belt in the county have been on cards since the late 1950s – but never materialised.

And campaigners are pleased the issue is finally being taken seriously.

Cllr Woodward, also the Hampshire executive member for transport, said: ‘I have proposed to my colleague leaders that we should request as part of of our devolution bid the ability to designate a green belt.

‘If we are expected to take development and growth, we owe it to our residents to say these sites are absolutely protected. The only green belt in the whole of Hampshire is near New Milton.’

Cllr Woodward said he would want land between Fareham, Titchfield and Stubbington forming the Meon and Stubbington gaps to become a green belt.

Plans were put forward in 1957 for a 10-mile green belt running from Totton to Hayling Island. It went to an enquiry two years later, but nothing ever materialised.

CPRE Hampshire trustee Edward Dawson said he was ‘delighted’ leaders are pursuing the matter. He said: ‘This was relevant in the 1950s, and it’s relevant now. Things have changed. We now have the New Forest National Park to the west, and the South Downs to the east.

‘But we have been looking at maps back to the 1970s, and putting a green belt in between seems to fit remarkably well.

‘We are not saying the urban areas should not expand, but we can have sustainable growth.’